InterviewCédric Waldburger on his first million

Cédric Waldburger, series founder and start-up investorPR

Cédric Waldburger, 31, founded eight start-ups himself and many other companies
accompanied as an investor. His most successful project so far is the blockchain start-up Dfinity. Waldburger grew up near Zurich, where he also studied electrical engineering at the ETH.

Mr. Waldburger, you have already founded more than half a dozen companies. How did it start?

CÉDRIC WALDBURGER: At 14, a friend and I started programming websites: for the scout club, for school, and later for local companies. It was just a hobby, later a real agency. I borrowed the starting capital, CHF 30,000, from a friend’s father.

Did your parents allow that?

I hadn’t discussed this with them, so they were quite surprised. You worried: what if it doesn’t work? But so far more and more things have worked for me than not working.

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What happened to the agency?

In the top we made a few million sales. I started to study on the side: I was at university during the day and in the office in the evening – overnight I built what my co-founder had sold during the day. After a few years, I retired from the operational business. The company was taken over in 2018 – by the way, that was when my account balance exceeded the one million mark.

At the time, you had already experienced a lot: You founded an online suit tailor in Hong Kong, worked for a fintech in Berlin, for an investment bank in London, for a social network in New York. Was there a connecting element?

I was always fascinated by the early phase of a company when you brought an idea to life. I also started investing in young start-ups in 2014. With what I learned from it, I founded three companies in parallel in 2016. One of them, the blockchain project Dfinity, is valued at $ 2 billion.

You have recently started your own venture capital firm with CHF 20 million. How much of your own money is in it?

Everything. I thought about diversifying into stocks or real estate, but quickly realized that I would rather focus on one area in order to be really good there.

What do you spend private money on?

Travel or experiences. Never for material things. The most expensive thing I own is my Macbook – you can read that on my list.

On your blog you list all your possessions – currently only 50 things. How did you come to catalog your life?

After moving so many times, I wondered what I really need. I started counting my things – there were 650. I gradually reduced the number. Now I only have what fits in my backpack.

For a few years you even gave up your own apartment.

I was traveling so much that it became superfluous. Today I share one with my wife again. I was very happy about that during the quarantine months.

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